Previous Page

Doctrine That Goes the Distance

Jul 09, 2017 | Todd Stiles

Man: God's Image Bearer

What are doctrinal non-negotiables for all of humanity? And what are the implications, if any, of these? Find out this and more in this biblical message from Pastor Todd on the doctrine of man.

For resources for this sermon series, visit

Sermon Transcript

A lot of you have heard these kinds of questions before, you've either heard them from people, you've heard them perhaps in different newscasts, maybe you've read them in articles, you may have even asked them before, questions like who am I? Why am I here? Those kinds of questions that kind of get to the real root of what a person is all about, philosophical in nature. I want you to understand that the doctrine we are considering today, the doctrine of man as God's image bearer. We are in week six of the series called "Doctrine that Goes the Distance." This doctrine specifically in a very succinct fashion answers those questions for all of us. 

It tells us who we are and why we are here, but here's something I think is most intriguing about the doctrine of man or what we might call the doctrine of humanity or what I would call biblical anthropology, this is more than anthropology. I couldn't teach that, okay? I don't have a degree in anthropology but I can teach biblical anthropology. I can help us understand the study of man from God's perspective and what we're going to find is that it not just answers questions about us and for us, it tells us a wealth of information about God. And let's just go ahead and call it what it is, that's really why we're here. Amen, church? We are not here for you or me, we are here to learn about God and to worship him and to focus on the glory of God in the face of Christ. So I'm excited today to break out to you some information, some understanding, some application about the doctrine of man but not so that you know yourself better only, I'm thrilled that you'll be able to see more about God in this doctrine of humanity. 

I want to do it in two ways today. I want to have a doctrinal discussion with you for a bit. You're going to want to have a pen handy, some notes, I'll have some slides for you and you can take pictures of those. There will be things that you'll probably think, "How does that work? What does that mean?" That's good. Then you'll ask some questions. I'll take maybe two or three questions at some point so feel free to text those in. The number is in your worship folder. But after our doctrinal discussion, I want to have kind of a deedinal discussion with you because this doctrine, what we know should affect how we live, what we do. So bear with me a little bit and let's kind of dive into the doctrinal aspects and then we will kind of look into the deedinal aspects. If you have not heard that word before, we did make that one up too. It just refers to kind of how we go about our actions and what does this doctrine do to us. We'll do that, of course, in three ways: we will dive into the word, we'll check into class, we'll kind of look at some of the terms and some of the actual labels for what we believe about this doctrine, and then we'll hit the streets.

So let's begin by looking at Genesis 1, the first book of the Bible, where God's creative activity is recorded for us and when it comes to the creation of man, here's what the Scriptures inspired by God, here's what they record for us. Verse 26 of Genesis 1, "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.'" Now, you'll recall we did look at this verse in our very first week on the Trinity. We're not analyzing the plural pronouns currently, we're going to look at what God did as a Trinitarian eternal being. It says here he made man in his image, after his likeness, "'let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So,"  in other words, after God deliberated within himself about his activity, he then "created man in his own image." So there you see twice we have the Scriptures telling us that we as humans are made in God's image, "in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Notice in 27 the Hebrew parallelism, would you? It's an interesting way he uses the word, "So God created man in his own image," and the next phrase is just the same phrase almost flipped around, "in the image of God he created him." That's somewhat of a Hebrew poetic device for emphasis sake.

So we see first of all in the doctrine of humanity or the doctrine of man or in biblical anthropology, here's a fact, here's a fundamental core tenet of our belief: that man is made in the image of God. We bear his likeness, all right? We were made in the image of God. Now, that's the fact that we see from Scripture. In Latin we call that the imago Dei, in the image of God. It's kind of a phrase that's used and has been used for centuries to describe a fundamental core tenet of the doctrine of man. We are in his image. The question is what does that mean? We know it's used here in Genesis 1, it's also used in Genesis 5, by the way, to describe how Seth was in the likeness of Adam. It is reaffirmed in Genesis 9:6 when it says that if you shed man's blood who is made in the image of God, then your blood will be shed. Now notice here Genesis 9:6 is after the fall. Genesis 1:26 is before the fall. So I think we can assuredly say, can you say think and assuredly together? I just did. I know we can assuredly say, let's say it like that, I know we can assuredly say that the image of God that we bear, though distorted after the fall, has not been lost because God affirms it in Genesis 9 after the fall that if you take the blood of someone who is in the image of God. So there is a sense in which the image of God within humans is not something that was lost at the fall. It may be distorted, it may be marred, but not lost. 1 Corinthians 11, Paul affirms the image of God in humans, I think it's verse 6 or 7. James 3:9, the very same thing. James echoes Paul.

So there is a core fact about this doctrine that humans, male and female, were created in God's image and what does that mean? Perhaps it would be good to check into class here to learn a word and then I'll kind of explain what the word means. It means, when I say in God's image, it means that there is some set of qualities that can be spiritual, physical, the word here is psychological, but there is some set of qualities that reside in humans whether or not they recognize God's existence and his work. This is what the image of God refers to and beyond that we don't know a lot about what the image of God means. I'm just going to be completely transparent with you. We know it means there is some kind of moral capacity, moral reasoning, creativity, intellect, and there is some kind of physical aspect going but God does not have a body, he is a spirit, so we are not sure how all of that works and what that means. We also know that Jesus Christ, he is the exact representation of God, the exact image of God. So there's a lot here we don't know about the image of God. It's only mentioned about maybe what, 3 to 5 times in the Old Testament. So we don't have a wealth of information. We have this simple fact: we are in the image of God. What does that mean? It must mean that there is some set of qualities, spiritual, physical, psychological, emotional, that God gives to humans for the purpose of representing who he is. Does that make sense? It's not perfect like it was in the garden and like it will be in glorification. The fall has distorted, marred that a bit, but it has not taken it away. 

This is called the substantive view of the image of God. It is the orthodox, long believed, what we would hold to historical understanding of the image of God. There are some other views that I would say rival this. I don't know that they are heretical, they just have different angles. I wouldn't hold to them. I would say there are aspects of them that I think make good points but there is the functional view which sees the image of God as rooted in man's dominion over all creation. The other is the relational view which says that the image of God is really represented in the fact that he created man and woman, so this relationship factor tells us more how God relates. 

So there are aspects of that that I can see but I think the substantive view really gives the widest understanding of what the image of God means and here's why. Notice with me a couple of things about the context of Genesis 1 because this verse alone that says twice, God made man and woman in his image, is after a number of things. First of all, man is the last act of God's creation, isn't it? Man is the only part of God's creation in which he says it is very good. Man is the only part of God's creation in which there is deliberation. God never consults within himself about any other creation until he comes to man and he discusses that within the Trinity, his perfect one being in three persons. He says, "Let us make man in our image," and so he did. And it tells me this: that man is God's pinnacle earthly creation. You are his highest earthly creation for this purpose, to represent what he's like on the earth.

So I would say there is a word you want to remember when it comes to the image of God and this core tenet, this core factor and it would be this: whatever the image of God entails fully that we are not sure we know, it does at least tell this, representation. You are a representative of God. I believe the words "image" and the word "likeness" are very similar. They are different Hebrew words but they have the same general meaning and they just go to the fact that we represent what God is like by some set of qualities, spiritual, physical, psychological, emotional, something along that that he has given to every human. That's kind of what's going on here in the idea of the image of God.

Now, here's what this does not mean. It does not mean that God was once a man. It's not that God was once and first a man, that would be a better way to say that. God wasn't first a man and then became God and so he said, "Oh, I'll make other people who can one day be gods like me." That's Morminism. That's not what we're saying here so don't think, "Well, okay, if I'm supposed to represent God, then I guess I can be God." No, no, no. So we are made in God's image but God wasn't first a man, became a God and then made us. God is eternal. He was before all things. By him all things consist. God just is. In fact, it's almost impossible to give God a past tense because with God, it is omnipresent, everything is in front of God. He is transcendent. He is beyond time. He is independent. He is self-sufficient. So though we say he was and is and is to come, in most theologically accurate terms God just always is.

So understand that when we talk about being made in the image of God, we are not saying that God was once like us, that he was first a man. Not at all. He simply made man in his image or his likeness in order to represent him on the earth. It also does not mean this: it does not mean that we will be God or that we will be a god. Will we be like God? The answer is what? Yes. John tells us this. When we see Christ, we will be like him but being like him is not the same as being him. 

Now, this brings to mind some other things about the image of God that I want to explain to you. If one day we will be like him, in other words, if the image that we bear currently will be fully restored in glorification, that means at some point it must have been marred or distorted. It was at the fall. Prior to that, I think, there was a perfect representation happening in the garden with Adam and Eve. So you had the image of God in perfect form in the garden, sin enters, man sins and now the image of God though still within him, is distorted. This explains why Paul would say that we are moving from one level of glory to another, one level of degree to another as Christ makes us more into the image of his Son, Romans 8:29 as well as other parts of Romans where it speaks of how God is progressively and increasingly sanctifying us, making us into the image of Christ. So we're going to go from the fall to glorification. We will see the image restored fully at the point of glorification either when Christ returns or when you die and you see him in glory. So the good news of that is this: that you're not going to have to suffer under a distorted image existence forever. There will be a day in which you will perfectly represent God again in the image that he gave you initially before the fall.

What does this show us about God? Listen very carefully to this because that tells us a lot about us, for sure, who we are at our core. We are made in God's image and we represent him and though it's distorted, like a broken mirror we don't reflect it perfectly, we know that one day God is going to restore that. Those are things about us that we appreciate but here's what it tells us about God that I think is even more joyful: that God loves us and he has staked a lot in his pinnacle creation. Now think with me deeply for a moment, church. God didn't need to create mankind. God is not in need of relationship. He was perfectly self-sufficient within himself so God didn't need to make us. And watch this, he didn't need to make the world. God wasn't bored. He wasn't looking for a hobby. He wasn't restless. So for some reason, the perfect, eternal, sufficient, transcendent God chose to make the world and then as the pinnacle of his act of creation he made a man and a woman and he put them in this world to enjoy it and to, what? Have dominion over it. 

He is a good God that he would make such a lavish beautiful place as this world and then say, "Hey, men and women, I want to hand this over to you to have dominion over it. Enjoy it. Be fruitful. Multiply. Work it." What a good God. I mean, can we just be frank, has this not been a beautiful few weeks of weather? I know it's hot but I just think about all the days I'll be shoveling snow and I enjoy the weather right now, okay? But yesterday we were outside most of the day and I'm not much of a gardener or a landscaper. I like to be outside but I was just thinking yesterday, isn't God so loving to give us such things as grass and shrubs and a lake or a pool that you can put water in, a patio to sit on and enjoy time with your grandkids and kids, and look out and just feel the wind and watch the trees, or go on a walk with your wife and say, "How old is that tree? It looks like it may be 100 years old." That's a brand-new one. And you're just kind of walking through your garden and you pick tomatoes or cucumbers or maybe you go to the mountains and you hike and you see cliffs, or maybe you're in a big city and you see the incredible and genius work of man to create skyscrapers that are 50 and 100 stories high and beautiful cities. So from coast to coast, border to border, just in our own small nation, I am in awe that God would give man dominion over that to enjoy that. Man, I thoroughly enjoy just being in God's creation, don't you? Isn't God good that he would do that when he didn't need to?

Now, I can't explain how all that works. I'm not God. I don't understand how you would do something that you don't need and we usually act out of necessity, we function that way, but God has no needs. He has never been lonely and he's not craving anything, yet in his incredible loving essence he made this world and all that is in it, put man as the pinnacle work of the earthly creation and said have dominion over it, and he said now enjoy that. So go and work. Work hard. Enjoy the labor of your hands. Enjoy my creation. I mean, God is a good God, isn't he? I think this is part and parcel to being made in God's image, knowing that he loves us this much that he would put within us some set of qualities that represent him and then in this whole world he made say go and have a great time in it and represent me every single day as you are enjoying what I have made.

So this brings me to the why question: then why did God do all of this for us? If he didn't have to, if he didn't need to, why? Look at the last book of the Bible for a few moments. We've seen in the first book a record of God's creation of mankind and the ultimate pinnacle place we serve in the earthly area, let's go above about 30,000 feet and see what God is really up to with all that. 

Revelation 4:11, again, we're still looking at doctrinal aspects of the doctrine of humanity. Here's what God's word said to us here, "Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things." We are in Revelation 4 and we have a reference back to Genesis 1, not just the creation of mankind, the last and final and I say the pinnacle work of God's creation. But here he says, "you created all things, and," watch this next phrase, "by your will," or easily translated for your pleasure or for your will, in other words, for your purposes, in accordance with your design, "they exist and were created." So God made the world, he created man and woman in his image to enjoy that world and have dominion over it, but why? Because, you see, he desires that his glory be known so as representatives of God on the earth bearing the image of God, yes, currently kind of broken and distorted but not forever, this is God's plan that those things he has created, especially men and women, we bring glory to him. So the image of God is in us for the glory of God.

Here's another verse, Romans 11. Look at this verse. It's a little more succinct but I want you to notice one preposition in there, "For from him and through him and," say it with me, "to him are," how many things? "All things." So your life was created to bring glory to God. That's what the verse says, "For from him," there is the source of creation, "and through him," again the creative source being God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, "and to him," and that's the end destination of all things, "to him be glory forever." So when you combine Romans 11, Revelation 4, you could also go to Isaiah 43:7 where it says that he created Israel for his glory, there are other verses too about this, we begin to see that we bear the image of God for the glory of God. This is the purpose for which we were created.

So let's make another doctrinal statement here: man is not just made in the image of God, man is made for the purposes of God. And what is the purpose of God? That he would receive glory unto himself. So this is why you are made in the image of God. In fact, if the word representation describes the first doctrinal aspects and we are made in God's image which means we kind of represent God, to whatever degree that kind of is laid out in Scripture, we represent what he's like, his likeness or his image. If representation talks about that in the first point, I think here reflection would be a good kind of word to kind of use as a handle. We were made for the purposes of God and what is that purpose? That we reflect God. That we shine and reflect his glory. 

The phrase imago Dei describes the phrase "image of God." It's been known for centuries. In Latin, the phrase for the glory of God is called soli Deo gloria. It means for the glory of God alone. It's one of the five solas. We hold to the five solas and we would say this, this is why we exist individually, and corporately we would agree with Revelation 100 percent, "by him are all things and for him all things were created. So to him be glory forever."

So I would say that God does not receive glory just because he created all things, God receives glory from all things. You know, there is a difference there. If you make all things, that fact alone would mean you are worthy of glory, correct? Like, "Wow, you're the Creator. You made all this?" Yeah. "Okay, we're going to give you glory." But he is not just saying, "Give me glory because I made it," God is saying, "Everything I made will actually be the source of the glory that I receive." So he's not just making a creation, you as the pinnacle of that on the earth, and then saying, "Look how great I am. Everybody give me applause." And then let you kind of run around and do what you want to do. He's not winding the clock and then getting glory for being the clock winder and then sitting back in a rocking chair and watching it unwind. God is actually creating all things and that alone is great to give him glory but then he says, "Everything I created, I'll actually get glory from them and through them." It's amazing. God uses everything he made and so he gives us his image to get glory to himself. This is really the purpose of God in marking us with his image. 

I would say we are his pinnacle earthly creation. We are his pinnacle reflective creation. Matthew 5:16, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and," do what to your Father who is in heaven? "Glorify your Father who is in heaven." So people look at you and they watch how you live and how you act and how you work, how you – watch this – how you enjoy all the good things that God has made. They are watching you just really enjoy having dominion over the earth. They are watching that and they're like, "Man." And they should be able to say, "Wow, I want to give glory to the God who made you in his image." This should be the end result of people watching your life.

So this is why 1 Corinthians 10:31 I think weighs upon us heavily. Could you read this verse with me? It's a short verse but it really describes why we were made in God's image. Together church, "so whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." Now, what does it mean to do all to the glory of God? What does it mean that we are made to glorify God? A couple of last points under this doctrinal section and I'll kind of give you a take-home truth and then we'll take some questions, but a couple of points I need you to hear. Glorifying God is an understanding before it's an undertaking. Glorifying God is an understanding before it's an undertaking. 

Here's what we typically do and I'm going to kind of need you to bear with me here. I'm going to try to poke at you a little bit. I'm going to prod you. We tend to think like the verse rightly says, eating, drinking or whatever we do, so it must be an action, and it is but it's far deeper than that. We tend to think, I should say we tend to limit glorifying God to just what we do like undertakings, but I think none of the undertakings that glorify God such as eating or drinking or whatever we're doing, happen until there is an understanding that really glorifying God brings God great delight. Like he delights in us, he made us out of great love, he has given us so much to enjoy so we relate to him in a relationship. Not just an activity. We are not just doing something so he can get off our backs. We're not saying, "Well, I've done these things that glorify you. I'm safe today." God actually delights in you and he is the most glorified as John Piper says when you are delighting in him. You see, there is a relationship factor that is primary, there is an activity factor that is secondary, and too many times what we do is we attach glorifying God to activities only but do you know that when you find your joy and happiness and contentment in God, he is glorified? Because you are saying to those who are watching what the psalmist in Psalm 73 says, "Whom have I in heaven but you?" So what your addresses, what you drive, where you work, whether you're in a hospital bed or a king sized bed, how your health is, aren't all that's concerning God but how you react to those, that concerns him. And in the middle of whether it's good news or bad news when we say God is the strength of my life, he's my portion forever, when his presence is far more valuable than his presents, then God gets great glory from that because he sees in us this incredible, utter, solitary dependence upon him that glorifies him.

So are there then things from that that we do that glorify him? Yes, there are things we do that glorify him but none of those things that we do, I think, really showcase God's glory if there is not first and foremost an understanding that just relating to God and being content in his presence, that's where everything begins. Being satisfied in God is one of the very first things we have to do to bring glory to God. So understand, glorifying God is an understanding. Understand, it's an understanding, can we say that? Understand that it's an understanding not just an undertaking. 

Please don't do this, don't put your life tomorrow or this afternoon and you're like, "Okay, I've got to glorify God. That was the point of today's message. That's what we do as his image bearers. Okay, I've got my list," and you kind of go out with a sour face and a drudgery mindset and you're going to attack everything on your to-do list with glorifying God in mind. Everyone is watching like, "Man, what's with you, Dave?" "I'm glorifying God, leave me alone!" And he's missing an entire understanding that a loving God has given him all this to enjoy and he has placed him in the middle of this world to have dominion because he loves him. So there is an attitude that has to be adjusted. Being satisfied in God is the very beginning point of really wanting to live a life that glorifies God.

Here's a second small bullet point to this and that's this: that glorifying God is both a promise and a pursuit. Can I say to you that God will get glory from your life. You need to hear that. There are people in this room who are away from the Lord, you are living in rebellion, you are disobedient, you are owning your life and you are assuming that God is just kind of sitting back hoping and wishing that you'll give in. Like almost God's on his knees just begging you but you're in his face, aren't you? You are that strong-willed adult. You know, you're not greater than God and you may persist in your sin and rebellion but I can assure you God will get glory from your life.

So it's a promise. Glorifying God is a promise. Everything created will, according to Philippians 2, at some point acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord to the glory of God the Father. But it's also a pursuit. It's something that God graciously has allowed us to participate in. We do things, we spend time with him, we read his word, we pray, eat, drink, whatever you do. So God is not hoping like, "Well, I hope some of my creatures will give me glory otherwise I'm up a creek here." That's not God. God will get glory but in his great love and graciousness, he has invited us in to participate in this process of bringing great glory to his name. Again, it goes back to something. In both of these doctrinal points we see the goodness and graciousness and loving character of our God in making such a beautiful place and such a pinnacle creation as man and woman and allowed us to enjoy it for the purpose of bringing him glory. What a good God, amen?

So our take-home truth is really quite self-evident. Every man, every woman, in the image of God, for the glory of God, no exceptions. If you were to ask me, "Todd, what is your concise understanding of the doctrine of humanity, biblical anthropology? Where are you with the doctrine of man? What do we believe non-negotiably?" I'd say it to you like this: in the image of God, for the glory of God, every man, every woman, no exceptions. Now, that has some implications we'll talk about in our hit the streets moment but just understand this is biblical doctrine that every man, every woman is made in the image of God, for the glory of God, no exceptions.

Now let's see if there are any questions that have come in. We have one. Let's take that question and then we will talk about some implications from this nonnegotiable truth that we have discovered from Genesis and Revelation.

Q. If mankind was made in God's image from him, through him, and to him, and to glorify him, then what can we say about the people who spend their lives dehumanizing others or seemingly living as the anti-image of God?

A. What can we say about them? That's a bad decision, first of all. We can say that for sure, right? It's an unwise bad decision to battle God for your whole life and then to realize that at the end of that earthly battle God will still use your sin to bring glory to his own name. Now, if you're asking me to explain how he does that, you need a smarter pastor than this guy, okay? We know that there are places in the Scripture where he has done that. Pharaoh, we're going to read that in a minute, but Pharaoh consistently shook his fist in God's face via Moses and the children of Israel. "I will not let you go. Who does this God think he is? No, you cannot leave." But in the end, did God redeem his people? And in fact, Romans 9 about verse 17 or 18 says that "for this purpose I have created you, that you would show my power." So Pharaoh may have thought, "My whole life, I'm anti-God," but in the end God used his very wickedness to showcase his own power.

So again, how that happens, I don't know but I stand on Philippians 2 that there will be a day when every knee will bow, every creature in heaven and earth, and they will confess Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. God can use both good and bad to magnify his character, okay? So great question. Maybe not the best answer but let's not vary from our doctrine, let's not think, "Well, that one exception seems to push a hole here." No, we just haven't seen the end of the story totally yet, all right? Good question, thanks for asking.

Here's a question you may, it's kind of similar that I think I asked myself a lot in the last two or three weeks in thinking through these facts and thinking through the doctrinal aspects, and then just, I wouldn't say coming up with it but in formulating that simple take-home truth, when I wrote it out and worked with it, I remember thinking this: okay, every man, every woman, image of God, glory of God, no exceptions, and then I thought, really? Like, everything? Everyone? And my mind began to think of someone like that question asked about or maybe someone with a terrible birth defect, maybe a mental issue, maybe a severely debilitated situation. My mind began to run through everything, every person? So I asked the Lord, I said, "Lord, how do I answer that question?" I'm probably not the only guy thinking that. I hope you thought that. One thing pastors have to do is when we think through the text ask ourselves, "What are they going to be thinking in response to this truth?" "So you ask yourself, "How would I hear this?" I'm not a whole lot different than our church. That's what I thought, really, everything, there are no exceptions? 

And God directed me to Romans 9. I want to read these verses to you and then we will make some hit the street applications, okay? But here's what Romans says in direct answer to that question. I want to warn you that you will have more questions after the reading of these verses. I'm glad about that. The point of this message is not to explain all the questions you'll have as a result of reading these verses, okay? So I'm going to read these and just make sure we understand that it is true everyone, everything, for the glory of God, no exceptions. That's the biblical truth but in answering that question, you're going to go home and you're going to have some interesting lunchtime discussions, I think, and you should. But let's hear what God would say about our own question, "Really, God? Everyone, everything, in your image, for your purpose? Really?"

Here's what he said in Romans 9. I'll begin about verse 17. Again, he's going to give an illustration of some things prior to this so you'll need to read this on your own but I'll begin in verse 17, "the Scripture says to Pharaoh, 'For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.'" Pharaoh never came to the Lord. He never bowed the knee to Yahweh and yet God used him for his purposes. "So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, 'Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?'" Here's verse 20. Listen very carefully, "But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, 'Why have you made me like this?' Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his," say it with me, "glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory?" 

Now, I know you've got 49 more questions that aren't the point of this message but can we at least on the question, "Really, God? Everything, everyone?" in great unity stand on the doctrine that, yes, there is not a single person created, there is not a single thing created outside of God's purpose that he made it and will use it for his glory. Why? Because he's the Potter and we are the clay. He is the Creator, we are the created. And who are we to say to God, "Why did you make it like this?" Man, does this not strike at the heart of American Christianity? We love to argue with God, to assume that our way would have been better. "He must have made a mistake in this situation. He obviously didn't know what he was doing." But you see, the real point of the passage is God has the authority and right to create as he wills for his purpose because he must know that in that very act of creation as he wills, he will gain glory from that. Pharaoh's example used here.

So I want to answer assuredly to you that our take-home truth is completely biblical, accurate and rooted in God's very nature and word. Yes, every man, every woman, in the image of God, for the glory of God, no exceptions. That should bring us great joy. 

Let me give you a couple of hit the street applications. Here we're going to move to our deedinal section. Let me just be somewhat brief here because since this is true, this doctrine should affect us by necessity in at least two ways: it should adjust our perspective, first of all. Things like abortion, racism, euthanasia, sexism, classism, all of those are ungodly perspectives on people who bear God's image. If you're here this morning and I want to be very kind here. That's always my goal to be kind but I also want to be very clear: if you're here this morning and you've often embraced some of these isms or you've considered abortion as more of a woman's right, I would challenge you based on God's word, it's a heinous wicked act upon a life that was in God's image. And if you recall the Holocaust and grimace in pain, we have in exponential ways exceeded the horrors of that in our own country. I've written more about this today on purpose because I want you to understand more about the doctrine of man and how strongly we feel about saving those who aren't yet visible but are completely viable and are made in God's image, the unborn. I've written about that on my blog. I've written about the imago Dei, the Latin phrase for the image of God. So go by and check it, There are a lot of things there about the image of God that I think will help you that I couldn't give this morning, but it's also just a plea for us to think rightly about the value of life both at its beginning and at its end. We should not be surprised that a devaluing of life at the beginning has now become a devaluing of life at the end. Are there hard decisions at the end of life? I'm sure there are and by no means am I making light of those difficult waters folks navigate, but we do not hold the power of life and death. That's in God's court. We must remember that principle as we navigate and all that is rooted in the doctrine of man, that we are made in the image of God, every man, every woman, no exceptions. So as a church, we believe in the sanctity of life. We believe all lives matter.

So the doctrine of man adjusts our perspective. It also aligns our priorities. "What do you mean, Todd?" Because when you understand that God is going to get glory from your life and that he is glorified as you are satisfied, and as this relationship blossoms and flourishes, that God is so gracious and good to give you such a beautiful world in which to operate and have dominion, like, wow, what a gracious and loving God! And suddenly you begin to approach every decision with this question in mind: how can God be most clearly seen? I don't know if you've asked that question but I would submit to you that's a very good question to ask before every decision. How can God be most clearly seen? 

Now, don't think that I'm saying that that always means that you seek the life of a poverty-stricken monk, okay? I'm not saying that. Don't hear what I'm not saying. In fact, Paul says that God has given us all things fully to enjoy, amen? It may be that in your enjoyment of everything God has given you with a gracious and loving attitude and return to God, that maybe that showcases God's work in your life. I don't know. I'm just saying to you, you should ask this question as you align your priorities because God's glory matters most, you should ask this question: how can God be most clearly seen in this decision? I think it comes down to things like – and you'll have to pardon me here for being personal, maybe not pardon, maybe this is what my job is to be personal with you, right? It's my role here. But where will you live and spend the years of your life? I don't think everyone here should live in a closed country. I don't think that. Some of you probably think I think that but I don't live in a closed country. I don't sense any calling of God right now to move to Turkey or Central Asia, maybe Turkey is not closed. I don't even know. But there are people that God will call to live in areas for strategic reasons and if he is not calling you to live in there, he's going to ask you to do that here. My question is: where are you going to live so that God's glory can be most clearly seen? What will you drive? Where will you go? How will you interact? Where will you shop? Just all these questions. Their answers have implications in regards to how we reflect God's glory. 

So I just want to ask you: are you being strategic in your decisions so that God's glory is most clearly seen? Because when that becomes our mindset, then I think we are getting the full grasp of what it means to be made in the image of God for the glory of God. And of course, we don't do this without the motivation of our Lord and Savior who was the ultimate fulfillment of the doctrine of man. You know that, right? The question is this: he is the express image of God so if you really want to know what God is like, if you want to see the perfect representation and reflection, don't look at man with a marred or distorted image currently because of the fall, let's look to Jesus who perfectly – watch this – who perfectly saw that people mattered, had the perfect perspective, and did everything for the glory of God, even going to the cross for us, amen? So that Jesus Christ is the perfect ultimate fulfillment of everything contained in the doctrine of man. No wonder we are told to fix our eyes on him as we, made in God's image, seek to live for his glory as well.

Will you pray with me, please?

Series Information

In a time when people are believing anything, or sometimes nothing at all, God’s people are radically different. We believe God’s Word. But just what are those core doctrines in God’s Word that we believe? How should they affect us? What does it mean to build your life around absolute truth and not changing opinions? Discover this and more in FFC’s summer series, “Doctrine that Goes the Distance." For series resources, visit